Where Are They Now?

Monash Alumni

NIGEL DRURY

Nigel Drury

Graduated: 1991
Position: Chief risk officer, Schroders

The career of Nigel Drury is testament to the fact that life can take us in unexpected directions. From a Monash Bachelor of Science, Drury is now Chief Risk Officer for global investment management company Schroders, which has offices in 28 countries and responsibility for assets worth about $A600 billion. “I’d really enjoyed sciences at school, especially biological sciences, and while I enjoyed the course I found I couldn’t see myself working in that field. I was much more interested in business and economics.”

After graduating, Drury headed off overseas, intending to travel and support himself through odd jobs. “I found myself, however, settling in London … I had a number of friends who worked in banking. Not having that background or a relevant degree made it harder to get into, but a friend helped me get a temporary job at JP Morgan. I started in a very junior role, in a dealing room environment monitoring credit risk, and it rolled on from there.”

When it comes to career highlights, Drury cites working with the Royal Bank of Scotland during the GFC. It was an intense period that tested both himself and the broader financial industry. The boy from the northern Victorian country town of Shep–parton now sports a decidedly English accent and regularly travels the world between Europe, Asia and the Americas. “It’s something I only recently realised … that I have been outside of Australia for as long as I was inside it.”

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ALISON HARDACRE

Alison Hardacre

Graduated: 2000
Position: HEALTHKIT Co-founder

Alison Hardacre’s motivation is simple yet ambitious: “We’re not going to be done until we’ve made health care better.” The “we” of the equation are she and business partner Lachlan Wheeler, who launched HealthKit, a software system for doctors, medical practitioners and patients, in 2012. HealthKit works quite simply by streamlining medical records. It provides software in the cloud that integrates everything from patient records, invoices, appointments, records and Medicare claims.

“We saw the opportunity to use technology to make people’s lives better, to use technology and education to actually change people’s lives,” Hardacre says of the system, which is currently being used by 15,000 Australian practitioners and thousands of patients each day. Every day, Hardacre says, some 6000 Australians use the software to browse for a doctor or specialist, while HealthKit’s international foothold is about to take off with a European office. It’s out of the startup phase. “We’re growing steadily and rapidly, we have a large customer base, a proven product and we’re international.” Hardacre and Wheeler, also a Monash graduate, believe HealthKit will revolutionise an industry that has remained doggedly resistant to technological change. “Health is connected, but technology has not been able to connect it … not so far, anyway, and that’s why we’ve built HealthKit.”

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ROBBY FOLDVARI

Robby Foldvari

Graduated: 1980
Position: Snooker and billiards professional

Forget the jokes about a misspent youth – Robby Foldvari has heard them all. The three-time world billiards champion has reached the top of his sport, made a successful late-career switch to pool, and now focuses largely on corporate events, including his role as resident professional at the RACV. Foldvari’s obsession began when he was growing up in Melbourne and the BBC’s Pot Black series was screened on the ABC. “Then my dad made me a little outdoor table when I was 11 and I played on that until the cat got it. After that he put me in the garage with a full-sized table, and I practised there.” Monash can also take some credit. “There was a billiard room in the bottom of the Union building, and I used to play there a lot,” he says. So what of that university career? Foldvari, now 56, started a double economics and law degree at Clayton in 1978, but ended up dropping the law, and after graduating worked as an accountant for BHP before turning professional in 1984.

His first major title, the world billiards championship, came just two years later. A wrist injury brought him back to Monash in 2000, when he completed a Diploma of Education and then taught at Keysborough College for a couple of years. Currently, he’s ranked the best pool player in Oceania. And the third chapter of his Monash life has just begun. A Monash Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Foldvari was recently approached by his alma mater to appear at a pool competition launch and finals night for college residents, in a program that looks set to continue.

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RACHEL BOWDITCH

Rachel Bowditch

Graduated: 1996
Position: Alice Bow founder

Rachel Bowditch experienced the power of the press last year when her brightly-coloured, handcrafted leather shoe insoles were splashed everywhere. “Royal Watch can reveal the Duchess’ secret weapon in the wardrobe department: leather innersoles,” Vanity Fair reported. “Kate is said to have purchased several pairs because she finds them so comfortable.” That was the turning point for Alice Bow, the company Bowditch, 42, launched in 2014. Almost overnight she had orders from 70 countries, and the range has just been launched at New York department store Bloomingdale’s. It’s been a winding road for London-based Bowditch, who completed a Bachelor of Arts with honours at Monash in 1996, majoring in European studies. “I was always going to do something internationally … I just didn’t know what it was.”

She studied at Cordwainers, part of the London College of Fashion, and “became really nerdy about the industry, playing with lots of leathers and types of padding for six months”. The secret to her success, as Bowditch sees it, is “taking a commodity product and making it desirable”. The insoles are crafted from Italian leather and come in beguiling colours such as rose gold and turquoise – no bland beige to be seen. “I think Alice Bow shows women you can love your shoes and you can love your feet, too,” she says. “They’re one of the things you can do to make your feet happier.”

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JAMES CHAN

James Chan

Graduated: 2013
Position: OCEANIA LIFESTYLE MARKETING MANAGER FOR PUMA

For James Chan the sneaker is king, and it’s a love that has led him to what he admits is his dream job. “When I was 15 I loved shoes – I love everything about the brands, the history, the nostalgia of it all. I’m a big fan of the ’90s era … I just loved the whole idea of the power of brand marketing. That stuff’s still talked about today. That’s when you know it’s done right.”

At just 26, he attributes his swift rise through the industry ranks to a strong work ethic that netted him solid grades at Monash, and the four internships he completed in quick succession after graduating. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for those internships ... they helped me take those steps in the industry.” Following marketing stints at global magazine Sneaker Freaker, Adidas and Acclaim magazine, he turned his hand to advertising at Clemenger BBDO, where he was offered a full-time role, but declined. “For me it was just an underlying passion for sneakers and working in the sportswear industry.”

Chan’s Melbourne-based role at Puma focuses on the lifestyle side of the brand, and it’s one to which he’s perfectly suited. “I thrive in that area. I’m deeply rooted in that culture.” For his next step, he has his sights set on the US, the sneaker’s spiritual home. “I have no regrets about any of my career moves up until now. All this happened for a reason.”

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KATE FITZ-GIBBON

Kate Fitz-Gibbon

Graduated: 2012
Position: Senior lecturer in criminology at Monash

The appointment of Kate Fitz-Gibbon at the start of 2016 as a senior lecturer was a homecoming of sorts. An accidental criminologist, she had started an arts degree at Monash in 2005, with an interest in drama and theatre studies. It was only through taking criminology as an elective that sparked her interest. It led to an honours year. “Doing honours is really like buying some time out to think about what you really want to do, and that year really ignited my passion for research and showed me I could make a career out of it.” A PhD followed, building on her research into family violence, and in particular how the legal system looks at men who kill their intimate partners. Fitz-Gibbon’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that the partial defence of provocation was providing an avenue for men who killed their female partners to avoid a murder conviction. Providing evidence to the NSW parliamentary inquiry led to their severe restriction. Or as Fitz-Gibbon puts it: “An absolute career highlight.”

After four years lecturing at Deakin, she was recruited back to Monash to be part of a Focus Research Program team backed by Monash Arts’ commitment to reducing family violence. Her work concentrates on evidence-based reforms in aid of a more risk-sensitive approach to family violence. “The opportunity to work as part of a big team working on one of the biggest challenges in Australia at the moment … it’s a good time to be working in this space, but the challenge is to make sure it translates to better court processes.”